Using “virtual correspondence” can help ease the workload of traditional foreign correspondents – but not replace them, write Oliver Hahn, Florian Stalph and Tom Steller, all of University of Passau. They report on six years of experimenting with virtual correspondence with a total of 90 German journalism students.
Based on the students’ experiences, virtual correspondents can produce high quality journalism. There are, however, issues that are difficult to overcome. For example, establishing contacts and rapport with local sources is difficult via internet alone. As a result, virtual correspondents are often heavily dependent on official sources and local media.
Traditional foreign correspondents are still needed to contextualize events and conduct investigative projects. Virtual correspondents could still complement their work by taking care of more straightforward, real-time reporting, the authors suggest.
The article “Virtual Foreign Correspondence” was published by the journal Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. It is available online on the publisher’s website (abstract free).
Picture: Untitled by Wolfgang Ehrecke, licence CC0 1.0.